Wednesday 11 December 2019

Top Tory Brittan is quizzed by police over rape claim

Leon Brittan: was questioned by police under caution. Photo: PA
Leon Brittan: was questioned by police under caution. Photo: PA

Jamie Merrill

The former British cabinet minister Leon Brittan has been questioned by police under caution in connection with an alleged rape.

It is understood that the former Conservative home secretary has been accused of raping a 19-year-old student at his London flat in 1967 before he became an MP.

The alleged female victim is believed to have claimed that Mr Brittan raped her in his central London flat.

It is understood that Mr Brittan strongly denied the allegation. The veteran Conservative figure is understood to have been questioned by police at the central London offices of his lawyers Mishcon De Reya last month.

This weekend, a Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed an allegation of rape had been made against a man in his seventies over an incident in 1967.

The spokesman said: "The woman was over the age of 18 at the time of the incident. The allegation is being investigated by officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command. In June 2014, a man aged in his seventies was interviewed under caution by appointment at a central London location in connection with the allegation. He was not arrested. Enquiries continue."

Last night, Mr Brittan declined to discuss the allegation, saying: "I'm sorry, I'm not going to talk about anything like that." Mishcon De Reya did not respond to requests for comment.

The detectives who questioned the veteran Conservative politician are understood to be part of Scotland Yard's Operation Fairbank inquiry team, which was launched after Tom Watson MP made allegations of widespread child abuse in Parliament.

The specific rape allegations against Mr Brittan are understood to have nothing to do with the Met's Operation Fernbridge investigations into child abuse.

The Home Office announced that it would re-examine a 2013 review into Mr Watson's allegations. The original review found that the department passed all relevant information concerning historical child abuse claims to police.

Mark Sedwill, Home Office Permanent Secretary, wrote to the Prime Minister confirming he would "engage a senior independent legal figure to assess" the outcome of the 2013 investigation.

The review found that the Home Office had acted appropriately in relation to historical complaints of child abuse.

Relevant

However, in a separate letter to Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr Sedwill detailed how this review had established that 114 "potentially relevant files" had been lost or destroyed.

He also added that it had not found a "single dossier" from late Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens, which was handed to Mr Brittan when he was home secretary in the 1980s. Rather, the 2013 report found records showing several "sets of correspondence".

The so-called "Dickens dossier", which was reported to contain allegations of a predatory paedophile network operating in Westminster during the 1980s, was at the centre of controversy last week when Mr Brittan confirmed he was handed the dossier.

He said he had asked his officials to "look carefully" at the material. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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